April 21, 2020

Healthcare providers and staff members are under significant and increasing pressure like never before. Healthcare systems across the country have identified both current and projected needs, including:

  • repurposing existing spaces
  • installing triage tents
  • transitioning entire floors into negative pressure environments
  • creating modular units outside of healthcare facilities

“Facility needs vary greatly by region to keep up with patient care as capacity surges; there is no one-size-fits all strategy or solution,” said Sean Ashcroft, who serves as a co-leader of DPR's National Healthcare Core Market. “We are actively collaborating with our industry partners such as Digital Building Components, SurePods, other prefabrication and modular partners, architects, and clinicians on an individualized basis to examine and implement appropriate measures, including rapid deployment solutions and renovations of existing spaces.”

 Photo of modular patient room
In response to COVID-19, healthcare systems are relying heavily on prefabrication, modular, and renovation solutions to increase patient care and capacity. Photo courtesy of SurePods

Modular and Prefabrication
Collaborating with prefabrication and modular partners, Digital Building Components and SurePods, DPR’s team of healthcare construction experts have created several solutions for hospitals looking to add temporary beds and staff support spaces in response to the increase in short to mid-term capacity needs. Together, these teams have developed an extensive range of modular, mobile, partitioned and tented solutions, all of which have been designed with input from healthcare customers and can be delivered within a short timeframe.

“DPR is ready as-needed with both capacity and materials to implement these solutions upon request,” Ashcroft said.

Image depicting Modular, mobile, partitioned, and tented design solutions
Modular, mobile, partitioned, and tented solutions have been developed with input from healthcare customers and can be delivered within a short timeframe.

Renovation in Operational Spaces for Increased Capacity
Healthcare customers nationwide are also seeking to make fast renovations to existing space.

For example, DPR converted an empty floor into a COVID-19 overflow ward in just three days for a major Houston healthcare system. With active staff in the area and through numerous utilities make-safes, DPR’s self-perform work crews converted the floor to a negative air space, rearranging numerous doors, walls, and offices to eliminate exposure when the unit goes into operation.

Another customer is currently considering reopening decommissioned-but-licensed beds, as well as looking at converting unlicensed beds into intensive care units, and ambulatory surgical centers into spaces for non-COVID-19-affected patients.

In Virginia, DPR modified 100 existing patient room doors for a long-term healthcare customer to add viewing lites, allowing care providers to observe patients while limiting direct exposure to the virus.

“While there are numerous infrastructure challenges to consider in the conversion of spaces such as hotels and dorms into medical facilities, for some healthcare systems preparing for an influx of patients, these options are on the table,” said Ashcroft. “Larger spaces such as convention centers would be a primary preference, because they can be set up quickly with fewer caregiver and logistical impediments. And while many healthcare systems are still first looking at existing medical spaces at this point, all of these are feasible alternatives, and DPR stands ready to work should any of our healthcare customers choose to move forward with these options.”

Remaining Diligent and Prepared
“We want to be someone our customers can count on when things are fluid,” reflected Ashcroft, speaking on what the future holds. “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop and evolve, DPR will remain a steady, dependable, and highly collaborative partner to create the best possible solutions for their unique and rapidly changing circumstances. We recognize and respect that each and every situation will have its own challenges and solutions, and we are committed to continue working together to respond thoughtfully and diligently to the COVID-19 crisis.

“We are grateful for our dedicated and skilled workforce and trade partners. Our project teams are working in ways to ensure safety, while also knowing the work we’re doing will position doctors and medical staff to make a meaningful difference in their communities. It’s a lot of pressure to handle and the crews are handling it amazingly well.”